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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Mail Bag 7


We have received hundreds of e-mails on the Mallory and Irvine Story. Many are very interesting. We think you will enjoy many of them. Note we cannot answer all the e-mail/questions, but you will see a few comments below...

Note this picture is of one of many items we found in various places on Everest. Some items are easily identified, others are not. ©EverestNews.com

Reader's Letter: George had a picture of his wife with him and told all his companions that he would leave it on the summit when he got there. There was no picture found on his body, a picture that he would not have left behind. Does this tell us anything? It tells me that he did make it to the top. This was his third trip in four years. He knew the mountain well and I do not believe that he would have been denied.

Reader's Letter: Hello, continue to be intrigued by your reports. Regarding your latest one about alternate routes past the second step - if they were climbing the ridge proper on the approach to the second step, is it possible that an even easier route at that time may have been to traverse onto the east face and then later regain the ridge? All I have is photos to go on, but the possibility of bypassing the second step by traversing round it on the north face has been generally discounted because there is no way to regain the ridge easily (and as you point out the Chinese route seems to be a minor-north-face-traverse itself). The east face seems to be just snow fields, potentially easy to regain the ridge, but hazardous to avalanches and probably impossible to fix ropes on - but if M&I (or just Mallory) were intending on making a quick dash to the summit - would this actually concern them? Perhaps this would be easier than climbing the second step on the ridge.

I have its quite hard to distinguish between what is second step and what is summit! I guess I understand why they said the summit looks "right there" - it really does!

Reader's Letter: Hello: I am glad to see you are clarifying your position on what exact route M & I may have taken up and down.  I agree that they were on the ridge (per Odell) and they may have come down through the couloir and the yellow band.  My theory is that they were together in the yellow band at some point.  They were traveling back to the camp when they fell.  M could not continue and was left in the snow terrace and Irvine went as far east as he could.  Then had to go back to the top of the mountain to try [to find] a way to camp.  There he expired.

EverestNews.com: We do not know the exact route Mallory & Irvine took. However, we think to just "assume" they took the modern route is foolish. We see the ridge route as the most likely and the Norton Route to be the next most probable. We see it as very improbable they took the normal route past the Second Step as climbers do today.

Reader's Letter:  Just read what Petkov and Dijmarescu said about climbing the 2nd Step from the ridge.  That is spectacular information.  Really strengthens your theory. 

Also interested in hearing what Everest climbers say about Mallory summiting along the ridge, and then descending through the couloir. 

Just a few years ago everyone was sure M&I stayed together the whole time, tried to climb the 2nd Step through the modern route, and that Sandy's body must be close to George's.  Now we're seeing history get re-written before our eyes. 

Reader's Letter: So if you would just tell "them" where you found the oxygen bottle in 2004, they would know where to search in 2005, I mean they would be able to tell you where the oxygen  bottle came from. Yeah right.

EverestNews.com: Now that is funny!!!!!!!!!!!  How do you make that symbol for rolling down on the floor laughing?

Reader's Letter continued:  Seriously, credible alternatives to how the oxygen bottle got that high would be interesting.

EverestNews.com: We agree.

Reader's Letter: 3 points: 1. I would love to know if Mallory summited- there must be a good chance his camera came loose as he fell.  Does anyone know if a substantial 'sweep' of the general fall location using metal detectors has occurred?

EverestNews.com: Where do you assume he fell? If you assume he fell just above where he was found, the answer is yes, that area has been searched.

Reader's Letter continued: 2. Despite being well acclimatized, coming off oxygen, particularly after using a closed system that they used, would that not make further significant progress unlikely? 3. How sad Irvine died as he did since he was the man that provided the conditions for the best chance for a summit.

Reader's Letter:  Just keep going! I'm totally enthralled by this whole saga

Reader's Letter:  I read there was only 2 groups searching for Sandy this year. Was there 2 or 4 groups as you have suggested in 2004 looking?

EverestNews.com: This is more misinformation. There were at least 4 groups of course, or 5 depending on how you count.

Reader's Letter:  What do you make of those who are saying there is not the rope injuries in the film footage?

EverestNews.com: Frankly, we would question if someone (stating that fact) had actually seen all the unedited footage. But if so, we would say show the public the evidence. Release all the tapes of George Mallory being dug up. Let the public see and judge for themselves. We strongly encourage you ask to see the evidence. This footage is without a doubt the biggest piece of real evidence that exists in the Mallory and Irvine story. We strongly encourage you ask to see all the evidence and not some picture with light shining on it!

For the record here is what "we said":

Item 1: We have watched the tape of George Mallory being dug up several times. We do not see ropes injuries (except that the rope was frozen into and around his body).

Item 2: We asked some of the climbers who found Mallory. They told us they saw no rope injuries (except that the rope was frozen into and around his body).

We went back last week and asked Thom Pollard about this: His comments: "While there are definitely areas on GLM’s body where the rope made impressions, frozen in or something, I don’t recall them being rope burns. He did have some scrapes on his body and legs, but not rope related. Where the rope impressions were, upper waist, it did look discolored, a bit brown. But, that could have been moisture or something that froze and made it look different. As well, his skin around that was bleached by the sun, furthering the difference between that and the area under the rope coils, otherwise ‘protected’ by the elements over the years.

I totally agree with your thoughts that he didn’t fall far. He was in pretty good shape. You’d only need to fall ten feet to break your leg in half. The hole in the head seems perfectly suited to the idea of a falling rock...100 mph?+++...and this further supports my initial observation that it looked as if someone had taken a ball peen hammer and whacked it into his skull. [Thom is planning on writing an article soon on the theory that George was hit in the head with a rock, rather than fell and hit his head.] 

Maybe the rope was still on GLM’s waist and coiled around his shoulders, in the French alpinist style. I learned it in France fifteen+ years ago and traveled over scree and steeper terrain like this many, many times.  Over the years or during the fall GLM’s rope may have come uncoiled and untied. He may have made a hasty coiling of the rope in his condition, further explaining why the rope was trailing from his body.

In my opinion, I agree with EverestNews.com, that George Mallory did NOT have rope burns, or other clear indications that the rope pulled into his body, when he fell. "Thom Pollard

Others climbers have been quoted as having opinions that there was rope injuries. Climbers commonly see things differently, this issue is not different.

Our full story on the rope again is here.

Reader's Letter: What about the theory that Mallory took a "great fall" from the ridge or the yellow band?

EverestNews.com: In our opinion, there is no way... No way.

Above the Third Step looking over the edge... ©EverestNews.com

Reader's Letter:  Why if some feel Sandy and George fell together, [did] all the expeditions except the fellow from Italy searched up high this year?

EverestNews.com: Good question, you need to ask the others. We don't think they fell together. Apparently, neither do those who were searching in 2004.

Reader's Letter:  Hello, I was wondering about Mallory’s ice axe.  I believe it was not found with the body.  Is it along the probable fall line?  Would he have left it, perhaps at the summit to prove he had been there, especially if he had doubts he would make it back alive, if it was already getting dark for example?  I find it questionable Mallory would part with his ice axe – yet Irvine apparently left his on a slab near the ridge below the first step.

Thank you for your remarkable work trying to solve the mystery of Mallory and Irvine.  Best wishes toward solving the mystery!

EverestNews.com: Good question, the location of his ice axe is not known.

Reader's Letter:  Where is Mallory's oxygen apparatus? If he fell after turning around before the second step and was descending, why was the apparatus still not attached to his body?

EverestNews.com: We have asked the same question!

Of course it is possible he did not turn around at the Second Step and that he passed the Second Step and then after running out of oxygen got rid of his oxygen equipment and was headed down without it. Much is still to be learned....

Reader's Letter:  Produce a map showing general locations of points of interest.  Not having been to Everest [and] trying to understand the general location of the issues you address is hard.  I can understand and appreciate why you might want to keep exact locations of what you found a secret.

EverestNews.com: More maps coming soon but here you go.

Reader's Letter continued: Thank you for the information this is exactly what I wanted to see.  Your assumptions sure track with my way of thinking.  What an outstanding job of putting this all together.  I had one question.  Can it be determined if George Mallory really did summit by taking DNA samples or some other means?

EverestNews.com: Can it be determined if George Mallory summited based on trace evidence? That could be the question in the future...

EverestNews.com: Thanks for all the e-mails and support. Feel free to submit your comments to and thank you for your support.

Dispatches

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